Review by Sarmistha Maiti
June 21, 2012


In Search of an Inner World
DibakarKarmakar, Swapan Kumar Mallick, DeepankarDutta, AnindyaPandit, SujataPandit
June 20-26, 2012
New South Gallery (A+B),
Academy of Fine Arts in Kolkata.

Antivirus, the group of four painters and one sculptor – all based in Kolkata – are holding up their second group show from June 20-26, 2012 at the Academy of Fine Arts, Kolkata. On 20th evening, at the inauguration of the show, the group screened a 15 minute documentary film based on the ‘never say die’ spirit of the children of the red light district of Kalighat in Kolkata, who are being helped by a NGO, New Light, to bring them back into the mainstream society. The NGO has been functioning in this area for over a decade and has helped raise many children to live a normal life without the children becoming vulnerable and easy victims of the flesh trade. Antivirus had invited the founder trustee of New Light, Urmi Basu, a social activist for the past 25 years, to inaugurate the exhibition. Antivirus had chosen to show documentary film “Fireflies in the Night” because there could be no better way of introducing Urmi Basu and her project New Light than this. (

Antivirus has a bigger reason to give before its audience such a presentation through its art exhibition. The essence of Antivirus as it had already laid in a sort of its manifesto in the first exhibition that it is not a protest, not even a prevention but the acknowledgement of the possibility of a repair and resolution from within the ‘virus’ itself, this time it has drawn one such parallel with these reformation activities from within even in other sectors of the society because the bunch of artists (all in their 40s) strongly believe that art is not secluded from the social cause and in the global contemporary situation it is more an inter-disciplinary subject than to be dealt through the narrow limits of aesthetics. In Search of an Inner World – the title of the exhibition itself speaks for its own. With an ingenuous idea that the quest and strive for one complete and unique identity of the post-colonial ‘self’ has now transcended into the acceptance and recognition of the individual  identity that is equally global and local at the same time, where the conglomeration of the local and the global ‘self’ and the ‘other’ as one and as counters has not just formed the collective consensus for individual recognition but has emerged as a composite identity – the identity equally shared by you and me; the Antivirus team has showcased their artworks that were borne by this philosophy and dedicated to generate this discourse without any ambiguity. Each artist has attempted to explore their very individual narrative and connected it to the bigger reality in their works.

Dibakar Karmakar among the team is a thoroughly abstract painter. The illumination of colours and the dissection of tonalities with a uniform balance on the picture plane elevate Dibakar’s works from the typical abstract art. All four paintings on display invoked the fervor of Eros with deep touch of sensitivity where the brilliance of colours and abstract forms were enough to trigger the emotions and move the viewers into deeper realizations. Swapan Kumar Mallick presented a series of drawings in conti, dry pastel and ink on paper and a painting-duo in synthetic tempera on rice paper. On one hand Swapan has intriguingly dealt with the notion of ‘composite identity’, where he has sought after a mythical union of man’s identity with the divinity and on the other he has attempted to convey a bigger self-realization of a man’s journey from birth till death that “we are more than we are; we are one”. There is a prominent grotesque imagery in Swapan’s drawings but that slowly transform into solace and composed structure as the journey of a human life seeks for a bigger union of the ‘self’ and the ‘other’ and realizes that the ‘other’ is nothing but the ‘self’ itself. “The Divine Embrace” speaks about this deeper realization.  

Deepankar Dutta’s sculptures are in mixed media with utmost simplicity and ideational anecdotes where he has portrayed the essence of “In search of an inner world” in his unique way that blended and gelled with the canvases on the walls in an appropriate wholesome way. Deepankar’s “The Frame” series also delve with eroticism but the journey finally ends up in mysticism. All his works have the quality of garden sculpture and the hanging subjects in blank frames prompt a more installation quality with 3-d picture plane quite unconventional to the sculpting technicalities

The Pandit couple, Anindya Pandit again came up with a continuation of his earlier series titled, “Celebrating Birthday” in charcoal, conti, pastel, pigment and water colour on acid-free paper. And SujataPandit, in her paintings, asDebdutta Gupta, the writer of the prefatory note of the catalog for this show stated, “The paintings of Sujata represent countless levels of a female mind in the domestic life… Loneliness amidst others on in the joint family forms the favourite subject matter of the artist…”;Sujata is her series of paintings “Frozen Memories has exactly portrayed this anguish and deep sense of loss.              

In a nutshell, the show reflects a ground of serious thoughts and sincere efforts of the artists with best of skills and execution potentiality to come together on a common platform and take the society through a journey of self realization and the bringing in of this huge endeavour of a social activist not just as a formal opening but through a performance-presentation is definitely an add-on which will be evaluated in the discourse of art history; to be more politically correct ‘cultural history’  in the times to come. The Antivirus spree should be applauded for that noble cause!

Swapan Kumar Mallick, Goldy Labratories-3

Swapan Kumar Mallick, Hungry for Love

Deepankar Dutta, The Frame

Dibakar Karmakar, Merged in the hue of blue